Tag Archives: provision

Some Reflections on Providential Provision

Tonight, for the first time in my life, I served a meal in which not a single ingredient (unless you count the salt and pepper) was purchased in a store. We had roasted potatoes and carrots from our garden, corn from the Budd’s garden and one of “our” chickens. I hesitate to entirely claim those chickens, as Owen and Aimee put in most of the hard labor to raise them; nevertheless, they have never seen the inside of a grocery store. For dessert we had watermelon, also from the Budds. You’ve heard of the 100 mile diet? Tonight we had the 10 mile meal.

When we lived in St. Louis, I shopped at ALDI to make the food stamps stretch as far as they could. I have no idea where that food was farmed or grown, but we thanked the Lord for it all the same. In that place and situation we were trying to be the best stewards of the provision the Lord had granted us, and we are trying to do the same thing here.

Tonight as we prayed “give us today our daily bread” with the children, the Lord brought to mind all the ways in which His provision of daily food has changed over the years. The details of the daily bread has been different in every place, but the principle of dependence upon the Lord has remained.  The way the Lord provides, and the decisions we make about how to use that provision, is not only different from person to person, but from circumstance to circumstance; however, it is always, and only, the Lord who provides.

For that provision, in whatever form it comes, may we be forever grateful.

Looking Back to Look Forward

So I turn forty next week, and that is causing a bit of nostalgia for me. Not so much because this is the statistical “half way” mark for the average human (although, yes, some of that) but because I am suddenly realizing how momentous the last decade of our lives has been. My twenties were all about dreams coming true – or at least most of them. We got married. Jonathan graduated from college and found his dream job. We moved across the continent. We traveled. We bought a house. We bought a low profile sports car. And then, right when the only thing we thought we needed was children, Jonathan left his position as a youth pastor, and I felt all of my dreams slipping away.

I was supposed to celebrate my thirtieth birthday with a cruise to take my mind off of being 30 and childless. Instead, I celebrated it by signing up as a real estate sales agent with my dear friend Donna. Jonathan took a part time job as a church secretary. We had a fire in our home with thousands of dollars in smoke damage. One new church was sued. It was a really low year.

But that year was a threshold for us. God did so much work in us over the last ten years that I almost don’t believe it myself, and I lived it. I discovered not one, but two rewarding careers (Real Estate and teaching). And Jonathan spent three years working in fast food after four years of teaching. We were a part of three different types of churches before finding our home in the Presbyterian branch of Christendom. We dramatically renovated a house, and then lost it. We moved to St. Louis and survived seminary. I learned to cook. I started a blog (and then abandoned it somewhere along the way). Jonathan took five weeks to preach at a church with an empty pulpit. We moved across the northeast in a snow storm in December.

And while I entered my thirties childless, and disillusioned and confused, I am looking at forty with three children, with a husband returning to pastoral ministry and with such growing clarity and trust in the things of God. It has been such a momentous decade of The Lord proving himself faithful over and over and over, so often and with such intense regularity.

This Sunday Jonathan preached on Mark 6:30-56. When the disciples see Jesus coming on the water they are afraid, “because they did not understand about the loaves.” Jonathan said,”if we don’t understand his provision, we will doubt his protection.” I feel as if the last ten years has been miracles and storms until we could trust in both The Lord’s provision and protection.

I am looking back so that I can look forward at the next half (or so) of my life in confidence that the One who brought me through that, will be completely faithful not to abandon me in the future unknown.

Please Let Me Clarify a Thing or Two

A crisis of emotion is not always a crisis of faith. In fact, when God surgically removes the idols from our lives he replaces them with more of Himself, so, far from being a crisis of faith, this current circumstance is really a crisis into faith. Yes it’s painful. All surgery is. But painful doesn’t mean bad, and it certainly doesn’t universally mean harmful. When I say that I don’t know how the Lord will be glorified in this situation I do not mean that I don’t think He will. I mean I don’t know how He’s going to do that. I have to be okay with not knowing how He will work. The Lord is reminding me once again:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
 Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshmentto your bones.

Proverbs 3:5-8

Secondly, while I described our current life state accurately in my last post, I do not want you to think we are relying wholly on the “generosity” of the tax payers. The church, both locally and universally, is caring for us well. We have 8 families who are sending us monthly financial support. Our sending church in Georgia supports us financially and in prayer and through every way they possibly can, and our seminary church here in St. Louis is doing the same in different ways. We are being well cared for. The bride of Christ is beautiful and we see that beauty every single day.

So do not despair for me, and definitely do not despair for the church. The Lord is faithful, even in the incomprehensible.

In Which a Resolution Reveals a Weakness in my Personality

One of the blogs I have had the fortune of discovering through pinterest is Choose to Thrive with the slogan “Rock what ya got.” She does a fabulous job of making all manner of things she needs from other things she already has. I had resolved to do more rocking what I already have in the new year and my first step was to pull out the Pile of Clothing Unwearable For Indeterminate Reasons.

After close examination of said pile, it turned out that all but one of the items were solely missing buttons. How easy is that? I can sew buttons. I used the power of the internet to find a sewing shop nearby where I could purchase buttons for the purpose of repairing the pile of button challenged clothing and set about the task of Rocking What I Had. I began with a mackerdoodle dress because her winter church clothing wardrobe is small, and the buttons, while more expensive than I had anticipated, where still less than a new Sunday dress.

I took the newly buttoned dress down to my family closet, feeling so proud of my thrifty-homemakery. As I hung it up, I glanced down at a bag of clothing which Jonathan can’t wear, but also can’t be donated, because they have been tagged with acrylic paint in the midst of an artistic frenzy, or have had the misfortune of becoming too attached to an emotionally and structurally unsound pen or experienced some other stain making tragedy. Suddenly I realized the truth of what I had done. Every shirt in the bag had buttons. Just by glancing I could count seven matching buttons that would have looked just fine on my mackerdoodle’s little dress. THAT would have been rocking what ya got!

I have found this flaw to show up a lot when I look at great upcycled and reused projects. Instead of saying, “What a great use of things they already owned,” I fall into the trap of using those projects to define what I don’t have. I don’t have a sewing machine, or I don’t have any cinder blocks, so I can’t duplicate what those people did. Rather, I need to look around my life and ask myself, “what do I already own that can be adapted, or even transformed, to meet a need in my life.” In the same vein, I need to look carefully at things marked to be discarded and mine those things for the useable pieces or new purposes.

Isn’t this part of the secret to being content in all circumstances; learning to look at all that I do have and all that has already been provided, instead of the one thing I don’t? The Lord tells me that those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Maybe, when I feel a lack I should begin to look for where the Lord has already provided, before I begin asking him to send something new.

Not everything in life can be so easily resolved as finding buttons in a scrap pile, but I bet I could find a lot more hidden treasures in my life without looking that hard. In fact, now that I think about it, there are probably some situations and moments I had cast off as worthless that may turn up some valuable provision if given a second glance.

And all of that from buying buttons.

From the Mouths of PreSchoolers

This week has been a week of total chaos for me. I feel like I have been in constant movement while simultaneously getting nothing done, or – more frustratingly – getting several things partially done but nothing ever finished.

One evening around bath time I walked into our bathroom. At the moment this is like walking an obstacle course. The bathroom itself is small and narrow and in said narrow space we have: two stools so my standing kids can brush their teeth and wash their hands, a box of diapers and a box of pull ups – both of which mysteriously migrate from under the counter to the middle of the floor – a baby bath, and a potty chair to enable the cheesedoodle to potty train without denying other family members their own much needed toilet turns. At any given time someone’s underthings are in the mix too.

So I approached this gauntlet distracted and at full speed with the mackerdoodle tailgating me and peppering me with questions and comments. I misjudged the height of the potty seat back trying to step over it and caught it with the tip of my shoe sending it flying as I planted my foot firmly into one of the migrating diaper boxes. I sat down on the edge of the tub and muttered, “This apartment is TOO SMALL,” as I surveyed the cluttered scene.

As soon as I said it, the mackerdoodle turned and looked me in the eye with concern.

“Why would you say that? This partament is perftict!” She said. “It has rooms and it even has a basement and we have a toilet and a sink and we can get clean water without walking to a well!”

All those lessons on the developing world designed to teach her thankfulness were leveled back at me with child-like forthrightness and absolute truth. I was treating the very abundance of God’s provision as a burden and a suffering and He used my daughter to show it to me.

My neighbor Becky had a similar experience this week and blogged about it too. I’m encouraged to not be the only one.🙂

In Which I Can’t See the Blessing for the “Me”s

On Tuesday, in addition to his successful dentist visit,  the cheesedoodle had his 2 year well child check-up. He is healthy, small for his age, but performing at or above age level in all developmental stages.

Except speech.

His official diagnosis? Laziness.

They gave me a recommendation of a local child development center that provides services and evaluation for children with developmental delays. When I spoke to them this afternoon, they told me that he didn’t qualify for their program because he was too normal. They recommended hiring a speech therapist privately to do an evaluation and give us some tips to help the cheesedoodle develop a vocabulary beyond Mama, Dada, tea and Uh-oh.

I thought, “Oh yeah. Because that’s so easy for a seminary family to do and where am I going to find a speech therapist?” I got bogged down in a really bad case of the “ME”s. Why ME? Why won’t my son speak? Why can’t I get some help?

What I really wanted was a 12 step plan to 50 words in 90 days. I wanted it to be easier for ME to communicate with my son. I no longer wanted MY son to be the “wordless, muddy one” any more. Mostly I just can’t wrap my brain around the fact that any child of MINE would have a hard time with words. For goodness sake, I’m not good with much *except* words.

The reality is that most of the people who call the child development center would love to hear what I just heard. For most people, that phone call is one call in a lifetime of doctors and assessments and specialists and tests. Too many mothers have called that line hoping for “It’s nothing” and ended up with “It’s worse than we thought.”

And the ultimate “in your face” to the “ME”s? My next door neighbor in this remarkable neighborhood we call home happens to be . . . wait for it . . . a speech therapist. One who knows my cheesedoodle, and understands a seminary budget, and is willing to take whatever we can pay and could do a half hour session with my son while her daughter napped because our apartments are so close her monitor works in my living room.

The sovereign Lord of the universe, who built my son and knew before the foundations of the world that he would struggle to find words, also ordained that our next door neighbor for this first year of our seminary journey would be a speech therapist.  What a blessing to have a healthy, happy, otherwise excelling, son. What a blessing to be told that my second child is too healthy, too normal and too much on track to be admitted into a child development assessment. What a kind and loving God to conquer my “ME”s with Him.